PASADENA (Nov. 25, 2018) – The Caltech women's basketball team took down Lewis & Clark College, 71-63, on Sunday at the UCSC Thanksgiving Classic, hosted by the University of California Santa Cruz. The Beavers have now won three of their first four games for the best start to a season in program history. Two of the three wins have come against NCAA competition.
Caltech led the majority of Sunday's game, taking a 33-27 lead into the second half. Lewis & Clark battled back in the third quarter, but the Beavers kept their poise and answered right back with a jump shot from senior center Elizabeth Eiden (White Plains, N.Y. / Holy Child). The Beavers then proceeded to embark on a 14-7 run to end the third and take momentum into the final period of play. Caltech's guard play took over in the final 10 minutes and kept pace with an aggressive last stand from the Pioneers offense to secure the victory.
"I'm very proud of our squad for finishing that game," Head Coach Bridgette Reyes said. "We played to our strengths with composure and executed our game plan effectively."
Eiden, fresh off two consecutive milestone performances led the Beavers with 24 points and 10 rebounds. The senior dominated in the paint, going 9-for-12 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free throw line with half of her points coming in the third quarter alone. Eiden was not the only player to get to the line with frequency. Senior guard Nika Haleftiras (San Diego, Calif. / Our Lady of Peace) scored eight of her 11 points on free throws, with the Beavers finishing the game having shot a season-best 33 free throws, converting on nearly 73 percent of them. Junior guard Samantha D'Costa (San Jose, Calif. / St. Francis) went 6-for-8 from the line and had another strong offensive effort with 19 points and seven rebounds, while freshman Elaine Lin (Brea, Calif. / Troy) provided an all-around line off the bench with five points, four assists and three rebounds.
Caltech's offensive and defensive awareness forced Lewis & Clark into 30 fouls in 40 minutes, which ultimately helped generate chances at the free throw line while dragging some of the Pioneers' key players into foul trouble by the third quarter. Haleftiras drew two charges on her own, and four games into the season the Beavers seem to be well on their way to discovering their team identity.
"As a senior, it's my goal to leave everything I can on the court," Haleftiras said. "Even though my shots weren't falling, I stayed aggressive and got myself to the free throw line."
The Beavers' defensive aggression also aided them, particularly in the turnover differential. Caltech took care of the ball and forced its opponent from the North into 21 turnovers, resulting in 10 steals and 16 points off turnovers. Haleftiras and Lin led the way with three steals each while D'Costa and sophomore forward Kali Drango (Lake Oswego, Ore. / Lake Oswego) each had two. Beneath the glass, Eiden, along with classmate Madeline Schemel (Westport, Conn. / Staples) led the Beavers, with Eiden adding one block to her lofty career total and Schemel leading the way with three. Caltech's pressure-based defense got to the Pioneers particularly late in the game, with the Beavers leading by as many as 12 points with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
"I did my best to attack the basket and be a defensive presence for my team," D'Costa said. "I'm glad we played together and got the win."
The Beavers will take their hot start into a home tilt with California Lutheran University for Wednesday's SCIAC opener. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.